5. Lucky & Wild (Namco, 1992)
Player 1 drives and shoots, and player 2 covers him with a second light gun. What’s not to like? There are already far too many light gun arcade games that never came home as it is (and another one appears on this list), but one as unique as this should’ve definitely graced a home system. I’ll admit, it would take some doing to get the full awesomeness of the arcade experience, which would require a steering wheel, pedals, and two light guns, and that many accessories hooked up to a console in the early 90’s was probably too much for any of them to handle. But there have been plenty of consoles since then that easily could’ve accommodated a steering wheel and two guns, meaning there’s no excuse why this incredibly fun game – and one of the most unique co-op games ever made – has to languish in relative obscurity.
4. G.I. Joe (Konami, 1992)
G.I. Joe’s video game history has definitely been spotty, so go figure – Heh, get it? Figure – that the best video game featuring the Real American Heroes has only ever been released in the arcade. A forward scrolling rail shooter starring Duke, Snake Eyes, Scarlett and Roadblock with up to four player co-op support, G.I. Joe was a breath of fresh air from the typical licensed fare at the time – this was smack-dab in the middle of the beat-em-up bubble. When I saw how beautifully Sin & Punishment 2 played on the Wii – with gameplay almost identical to G.I. Joe‘s – it definitely whet my appetite for some sort of re-release on that system, but alas the arcade portion of the Virtual Console was short lived and underutilized. G.I. Joe’s next slated video game appearance is in Ubisoft’s Toy Soldiers, which is a crossover with He-Man and has the characters going to battle in…a tower defense game. Sigh.
3. Star Wars Trilogy Arcade (Sega, 1998)
For my money, SWTA is still one of the purest Star Wars experiences ever commited to video game form. It boils the Trilogy down to its most exciting elements: the X-Wing battle at Yavin, the Death Star trench run, taking down AT-ATs on Hoth, the shoot-out in the corridors of the rebel base before escaping in the Millenium Falcon, the speeder bike chase in Endor, taking down the second Death Star, and light saber battles with Bobba Fett and Darth Vader. And all taking place one after another, with no pointless filler in-between. Best of all, the entire game is controlled with a simple joystick with a single button at the end, and a big flashing “event button” activated at context-specific points in the game. It couldn’t be more streamlined, or more fun, and how it was never released even for the Wii – which would’ve been able to handle the game’s control perfectly – is beyond me.
2. Scud Race / Daytona USA 2: Battle on the Edge (Sega, 1996 / 1998)
Yep, I’m cheating and putting two games in one slot. Both of these games are basically the successors to Daytona USA – one spiritual, and the other literal – and for whatever strange reason, neither came to a home system even though bringing its excellent arcade games home was kind of Sega’s thing. Namco and Ridge Racer be damned, nobody has ever done arcade racing as well as Sega, and these two games do not disappoint. Not only is it a crime that neither were ever ported to Saturn or Dreamcast (or brought to one of the newer consoles digitally), but they were both always fairly rare even as arcade games and only a relatively lucky few have gotten extensive time with them. Near the top of the long, long list of things Sega should do is release a compilation of all of its racing games, and they definitely should put these two hidden gems on there as well.
1. Virtua Cop 3 (Sega, 2003)
I’m a huge light gun game fan. Admittedly, my favorite light gun series is Time Crisis, which stands at odds with my feelings of disappointment at how under-appreciated the Virtua Cop series has always been since a big part of the reason for that was that it was overshadowed by the more popular and more technically-impressive Time Crisis games. Well that and Sega deciding somewhere along the way that there was only room in the company for one marquee light fun series and that House of the Dead was more deserving of the honor (a decision which I wholeheartedly disagree with, though I definitely enjoy that series as well). Tragically, the game where the VC series finally came into its own and produced an installment as visually striking and technically sound as any Time Crisis game – or any light gun game, for that matter – wasn’t until 2003’s Virtua Cop 3. It was far too late to make an impact in arcades, and also missed the post-Dreamcast window when Sega was still interested in bringing their more niche games to other consoles. Alas, the brilliant VC3 – with its ingenious bullet-time mechanic that was the genre’s best addition since Time Crisis‘ cover system – never really had a chance, and arrived just a few years too late to be the cult hit it deserved to be.
And finally, I just couldn’t resist including this parting shot from Lucky & Wild. Not for the cleavage and short shorts – that was pretty common in arcade games of that era, especially racing ones for some reason – but for the guys’ seemingly frightened/befuddled reaction to it. Especially Wild…with a nickname like that, should he really seem so nervous at the sight of scantily-clad women wearing cat tails and ears?